Living Sustainably: Panel to discuss complexity of affordable housing

By Hannah Gingrich, Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore

The Holland area suffers from a significant lack of housing that full-time workers in this area can afford.

“Affordable housing is not a simple subject” might be the understatement of the year.  Regular consumers of local news have undoubtedly noticed this topic repeatedly featured in recent city discussions.

Housing issues affect everyone, though in different ways. Even the casually interested likely have heard friends or coworkers mention how difficult it is to find a place to live or how stressed out they are when faced with an upcoming move, wondering if they will be able to find a situation they can afford.

The next Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore program will address how housing issues affect us and our neighbors. Four local housing experts will talk about what affordable does and could look like in Ottawa County at “Quality of Life: The Affordable Community,” to be held 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, at Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave.
All kinds of people are significantly affected by the lack of available housing at their price point.
Housing Next’s May 2017 Impact Report, the most recent available, points out the large number in our community who fall in the ALICE category – ALICE, or Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.
That threshold is $56,400 for a family of four.

The lack of housing that can be afforded by area workers is a major issue in Holland.

Housing Next is a local initiative seeking to support all income levels needing affordable housing.
Housing Next’s impact report recounts stories of seniors, recent graduates, factory workers, single mothers, and disabled adults struggling to make ends meet.
In one example, Sue and Tom both make $10 an hour working at a factory. They like the area and want to stay, but their monthly income barely meets their expenses. Sometimes it comes down to a choice of what bill gets paid that month – rent or car insurance, day care or food.
In another example, Tamara has a full-time job. As a single mother making minimum wage, she was forced to look for more affordable housing when her work hours became erratic. However, she couldn’t find anything near work and had to rent an apartment half an hour away, despite being concerned about her car’s reliability. She must now spend much of her budget on transportation.
Housing and homelessness aren’t simply issues of poverty. Jobs paying low wages may not have been intended for individuals supporting families, but that situation has become the new reality. How do you manage to live a life of quality when your paycheck barely covers the roof your head?
But building affordable housing doesn’t come cheap.
It might seem like a simple matter of budgeting a building to keep it low-cost. But not only does an affordable housing development require the same real estate purchases, zoning approvals, and building expenses as market-rate rentals, it often comes with additional challenges. Neighbors may contest building sites, and the grants needed to make projects financially feasible lengthen the process, which
ultimately drives up cost.
These kinds of issues will be addressed by the panel of experts at the next Living Sustainably program on March 5. Included in the evening will be a drawing for a $20 Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity ReStore gift card

 Hannah Gingrich is a public services assistant at Herrick District Library, a Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore partner.

“Quality of Life: The Affordable Community”
Who: Ryan Kilpatrick of Housing Next; Laura Driscoll, director of housing services at Good Samaritan; Angela Maxwell from Community Action House, and Chad Frederick from the geography department faculty at Grand Valley State University
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave.
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, March 5
Admission: Free

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

CONFRONTING A THREAT IN WEST MICHIGAN FORESTS (Hope College Spera Magazine)

KATHY WINNETT-MURRAY, PH.D. | PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY
K. GREG MURRAY, PH.D. | T. ELLIOTT WEIER PROFESSOR OF PLANT SCIENCE
VANESSA MUILENBURG, PH.D. | ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY

Hemlock woolly adelgid, the invasive and destructive insect, which sucks the sap from North American hemlock trees and dooms many of them, has taken hold in the Hope College Nature Preserve and a team of faculty and students are studying the impacts.

The research team includes Dr. Kathy Winnett-Murray and Dr. Greg Murray. The veteran husband-wife educators have teamed up with Dr. Vanessa Muilenburg, an entomologist, to assess the extent of the adelgid infestation and determine the importance of hemlock trees in West Michigan forests. They spent summer 2018 doing field work with three Hope students: Katelyn DeWitt ’21 and biology majors Analise Sala ’19 and Micaela Wells ’19.

The researchers spent many hours amid the hemlocks in Hope’s nature preserve about five miles southwest of the campus, near the Lake Michigan shoreline, and at three other sites in Allegan and Ottawa counties. Winnett-Murray says that because of Lake Michigan’s unique influence in creating moisture-rich and canyon-like dune troughs, West Michigan is one of the few places in the Great Lakes region where hemlocks thrive amid forests of beech and maple trees.

Read the full piece by following this link:  https://spera.hope.edu/2019/confronting-a-threat-in-west-michigan-forests/

AUTHOR: JIM MCFARLIN ’74

Jim McFarlin ’74, an award-winning writer, critic and blogger, is a 2019 recipient of Hope College’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Additional information can be found at:  https://savemihemlocks.org/

FOR ALL OF GOD’S GOOD EARTH (Hope College Spera Magazine)

STEVE BOUMA-PREDIGER, PH.D.
LEONARD AND MARJORIE MAAS PROFESSOR OF REFORMED THEOLOGY

“A term like ‘earthkeeping’ is more biblical and simply refuses to accept the view that the natural world is a commodity to be used by humans who only manage its resources for our own ends,” he explains. “Being a keeper, in the biblical sense, means being someone who serves and protects. So the term ‘earthkeeping’ creates an image that much more clearly captures the idea that we are creatures called by God to take care of creation.”

Read the full piece by following this link:  https://spera.hope.edu/2019/for-all-of-gods-good-earth/

AUTHOR: EVA DEAN FOLKERT ’83

Eva Dean Folkert ’83 writes extensively about Hope people, research, sports and news.

Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution – Thursday, February 21

Please join the Macatawa Creation Care Group on Thursday, February 21 in Graves Hall for a film screening of “Happening: A Clean Energy Revolution.”

Doors open at 5:45, and the film starts at 6:00. The film will be followed by a panel of representatives from the City Of Holland, Holland Board of Public Works, and West Michigan Community Sustainability Partnership.

View the trailer here: https://happeningthemovie.com/

““I know it’s going to change because when I talk to young people, they are not even questioning that it’s happening, they just understand it.  I feel like it’s just happening.”  Lisa Jackson Vice President Environment, Policy, and Social Initiatives, Apple Inc.”

SYNOPSIS:  Filmmaker James Redford embarks on a colorful personal journey into the dawn of the clean energy era as it creates jobs, turns profits, and makes communities stronger and healthier across the US. Unlikely entrepreneurs in communities from Georgetown, TX to Buffalo, NY reveal pioneering clean energy solutions while James’ discovery of how clean energy works, and what it means at a personal level, becomes the audiences’ discovery too. Reaching well beyond a great story of technology and innovation, “Happening” explores issues of human resilience, social justice, embracing the future, and finding hope for our survival.

Living Sustainably: It’s all about global “weirding”

By Sarah Irvin, Naturalist at DeGraaf Nature Center

Climate change is altering wind patterns, affecting bird migrations and forcing birds, such as this pine siskin, to adapt their behaviors.

Climate is defined as the weather in a particular area over a large time period, which unveils patterns when recorded, allowing us to create models that mimic and make predictions.
Unfortunately, climate trends will become increasingly more challenging to predict as temperatures and precipitation events shift; the phenomenon that we have named “global warming” might more accurately be called “global weirding.”
While it is true that the planet is warming on average, it is the ever-increasing rate of change and values outside of acceptable climate variability that are concerning.

Changes in temperature patterns are altering when flowers bloom, affecting human allergies and insect behaviors.

The U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program conducted an evaluation and concluded the following about what types of changes to expect in the Midwest over the next century:
 Plants: In the early growing season, agricultural yields will be reduced by rising temperatures, excessive soil moisture, and erosion from increased rain. In the late growing season, invasive species and pests currently stressing our plants will worsen from an increased frequency of drought. Water stress on all plants will eventually lead to a lowered species diversity and productivity in our forests.

Climate changes are altering ice cover on Lake Michigan, which can affect evaporation, water temperatures and health of the water ecosystem.

 Water: Our Great Lakes are not receiving the annual ice cover that we are used to seeing, allowing evaporation to occur year-round (with summer evaporation rates increasing).
Changes in water level and temperature can stress native species, creating opportunities for invasive species and toxic algal blooms.
An Environmental Protection Agency study projects that decline in water quality, along with increased storm impacts, will negatively affect Michigan coastal communities.

 Animals: Migrating birds will fight stronger headwinds on a longer journey south, but return with the push of the wind, allowing them to conserve energy and arrive at their breeding grounds healthier. Biologists’ already are seeing birds adapting their flight paths and have hope that the gradual nature of the change will allow them to continue to adjust.
But they also note that imbalanced adaptations in lifecycles or bloom times could decrease food availability across all animals.
At the same time, ecosystem services such as flood control, water purification, and crop pollination provided by plants and animals will decrease as species diversity declines and habitats degrade.

 People: With warming temperatures, pollen seasons will likely extend, impacting people with seasonal allergies. And within our human infrastructure, we can expect property damage and disrupted transportation from increased heavy rain events, subsequent flooding, and erosion, according to the assessment. Most people will notice these changes slowly, but those already vulnerable will only become more so.
With the vast interconnected nature of our environment, no change can happen in isolation. Change is a natural, unavoidable part of our planet. We just have to do what we can to limit our impact, and thwart the speed and scale of changes occurring now.

 Sarah Irvin holds degrees in geology and terrestrial ecology and is a naturalist at DeGraaf Nature Center. The views expressed here are hers alone and not representative of DeGraaf Nature Center.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Session will tell about saving our lakes from runoff

By Kyle Hart and Matt Belanger, West Michigan Environmental Action Council
The Great Lakes contain 20 percent of all available freshwater on the surface of the Earth, and stormwater pollution is the number one threat to the quality of that water.
In February, the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series will start off the year with a presentation from the West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) regarding stormwater issues created in urban communities.

The summer blooms in the rain garden at Hope Church in Holland show protecting the Big Lake can be beautiful as well as sustainable. Photos courtesy Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snow falls on surfaces such as buildings, sidewalks, and roads and does not soak into the ground. It “runs off” these surfaces into storm drains and waterways. It can quickly carry sediment, litter, and chemicals into bodies of water, and its impact is directly felt by lakeshore communities such as Holland.
Runoff can be managed using green solutions that treat stormwater at the source and prevent it from degrading our water quality. Those solutions might include using a rain barrel, building a rain garden, or increasing the amount of native plants and trees on your property.
Are you interested in helping protect our water? The program “Rainy Days – Causes, Problems and Solutions” will explain how to live a greener lifestyle to reduce flooding, limit property damage, save money using these sustainable stormwater strategies, and impact climate change. The program will be 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 5, at Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave. in Holland.

A rain garden, such as this one at West Ottawa’s Great Lakes Elementary, gives rain and snow runoff a place to sink into the ground, keeping it from washing pollutants into waterways and lakes. Photos courtesy Macatawa Area Coordinating Council

As cities expand, the threat of stormwater runoff becomes greater each day, requiring community action to protect our freshwater resources.
Come join WMEAC and the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council at the next Living Sustainably program for an engaging workshop highlighting best practices that prevent stormwater from running off, collecting harmful pollution, and flooding our community.
This discussion will help build a sustainable future for Holland and connect you with local organizations that can provide additional resources and information.
Community members are encouraged to bring questions and concerns, or to share their experiences with managing stormwater on their property.
People attending the workshop also will have a chance to win a free 55-gallon rain barrel that can be used to store rainwater, reduce flooding, and help save money on the water bill.
Visit the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Facebook page for
more information. We look forward to having you join us to support our mission of empowering you to live more sustainably!

Also visit:

www.the-macc.org/watershed/watershedproject/

www.the-macc.org/watershed/stormwater/

www.wmeac.org/water/stormwater/

for more resources and information about managing stormwater on your property and about how to use sustainable solutions to protect the quality of our waters.

Rainy Days – Causes, Problems and Solutions
When: 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 13
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River Ave., Holland
Cost: Free

 Kyle Hart is education coordinator of Teach for the Watershed at the West Michigan Environmental Action Council. Matt Belanger is the Crane Foundation endowed water fellow at WMEAC.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: New Park Passport encourages nature exploration with prizes

By Dan Callam ’09, Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway
Has your family been on an adventure recently?
There’s no need to wait until spring break or for a road trip to a warm, far-off destination. Your local nature centers are encouraging families to explore spaces around them in 2019 by visiting nearby parks with their new Park Passport as their guide.
We bet even the most enthusiastic park explorers haven’t been to all of our community’s parks. We had a hard time narrowing the list down for the passport! Parks are one of the things that make our community a great place to live and are a benefit to people of all ages and abilities. Plus, you can visit most of them any month of the year!
You can find a copy of the Park Passport at your nearest nature center or library to begin your journey. Highlighted inside the passport are 14 local parks in the greater Holland/Zeeland area that are worth a visit. Each page has a list of attractions and amenities, as well as a Challenge Question. Be on the lookout for signs at each stop that provide the answer to the Challenge Question.
Once your family has visited at least 10 of the parks and successfully answered the question, return with your completed passport to the Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, or Hemlock Crossing Nature Center during regular business hours to claim a prize.

Ambitious families may be able to visit all of these sites over a long weekend, but you have until the end of 2019 to get all your visits completed.

 Dan Callam is Greenway manager for the Outdoor Discovery Center Macatawa Greenway.

Using the new Park Passport program?
When does the Park Passport program start?
Passports will be available Feb. 1 through the end of 2019.
Where can I get a passport?
Outdoor Discovery Center, DeGraaf Nature Center, Hemlock Crossing Nature Center, Herrick District Library.
How does it work?
Visit at least 10 parks in the guide and fill out the pages in the passport while you’re there. Return your completed passport to any participating nature center for a prize.
When should we visit the parks?
Hours for each location are listed in the passport. Most sites are open year-round, and winter can be a great time to visit!
What should we bring?
Bring your passport, clothes and footwear that can handle a little dirt and water, and as many family members you can find! A water bottle and snack are handy for longer walks, or you can bring a picnic lunch to most locations. If you have binoculars or a magnifying glass, they can help you explore things that are far away or hiding down on the ground.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: “Sustainable literacy” is a good goal for 2019

By Michelle Gibbs, Office of Sustainability

Sustainability comes from the intersection of a balanced approach to a healthy environment, vibrant economy and equitable society.

With the recent turning of the new year and a new school semester starting this week, it is a great time to set a personal goal of “sustainable literacy.”
But what does this mean?  The United Nations shares that “sustainability literacy is the knowledge, skills and mindsets that allow individuals to become deeply committed to building a sustainable future and assisting in making informed and effective decisions to this end.”
Sustainability has been described in a number of ways, but the most common definition comes from the United Nations Brundtland Report (1987): “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
Another common description comes from an ancient philosophy, The Great Law of the Iroquois, which calls for thinking about the “seventh generation” – a timeframe of approximately 140 years.

With both of these descriptions, thinking about how our choices today will impact the environment and future generations, especially far into the future, is a critical piece of creating a sustainable world.
So how do we do this?  We can implement the “triple bottom line” approach and think not only about the traditional bottom line (or the dollars) impact, but also bring to light the environmental and social impacts.  The triple bottom line encompasses economics, social equity, and the environment, now and into the future.

Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as about their community and how they are a part of both of these systems – and start gaining sustainable literacy.

Sustainability is an important concept for everyone to apply and is really “K to gray learning.”
Starting at an early age, children can learn about the natural world as well as their community and how they are a part of both of these systems.  As we get older, we can learn about ways our daily choices have an impact on others and the planet, and we can make more thoughtful choices.

 

“When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect,” said the great naturalist Aldo Leopold.

Kids and adults can plug into sustainable literacy in Holland in many ways, including:
 Get outside and take classes at one of our amazing local parks or nature centers.
 Kiddos can participate in summer camps offered by Hope College’s ExploreHope Program.
 Participate in local, state, and national government decisions.
 Head to Herrick District Library or one of our great local bookstores to find reading materials.
 Learn more about Holland’s Sustainability Framework at
www.cityofholland.com/sustainability and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs.

 Attend the monthly “Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore” events. Save the date for the following spring events:

o Feb. 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick District Library — Environment (stormwater,
climate change, and resilient communities)
o March 5, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Quality of Life (affordable housing in Ottawa
County)
o April 23, 6:30 p.m. at Herrick — Economics (sustainable businesses in the
greater Holland area)
o May 14, 6 p.m. at Holland Energy Park — Transportation (green commuting in
Holland including a mini green vehicle car show and bike ride)

The bottom line of sustainable literacy is, then: Get to know the natural world and your personal impacts on it, get involved in your community, and together we will create a better world.

 Michelle Gibbs is the director for the Office of Sustainability at Hope College and the director for the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a partnership between Hope, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: We can resolve to be greener in 2019

By Karen Frink ’17, Holland Hope College Sustainability Institute
As we celebrate the end of 2018 and the start of 2019, many of us list resolutions to improve our lifestyle in the coming year. What if your resolutions could help not only you but the earth and your local community, as well?
Your friends at the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute challenge you to consider adding green resolutions to your list.
Some green resolutions are easy to think of:
 Turn off lights when you aren’t in the room or when natural light is bright.
 Divert as much as possible of your household waste from the landfill by using recycling and composting.
 Unplug electronics that aren’t in use.
 Eliminate your use of single-use plastics such as water bottles, plastic bags, and plastic silverware.

If you need more inspiration, Holland’s seven sustainability framework categories are an excellent place to start. Below are the seven categories and some ideas in each area to consider for your resolutions:

Environmental Awareness/Action:
 Check local dashboards that report on the status of Holland’s sustainability efforts and Project Clarity’s environmental cleanup. Check out
https://hollandsustainabilityreport.org/ or http://www.macatawaclarity.org/monitoring/

Economic Development:
 Shop small local businesses to support the local economy.
 If you own a business, take the Quick Impact Assessment to see how you can save energy and otherwise be sustainable in 2019. Find it here: https://goodfor.org/about/how-to

Transportation:
 Travel on a bike. Become familiar with bike paths during Bike Holland events, which kick off at the May Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore program.
 Walk, carpool, or use public transportation whenever possible.

Smart Energy:
 Switch your lights to LED bulbs.
 Delay switching on heat or air conditioning when not essential.
 Invest in renewable energy options – solar for your home, or electric for your car.
 Take part in Holland’s Home Energy Retrofit program. Look for “Rehabilitation Programs” under “Housing,” in the “Residents” pulldown on the city webpage:
www.cityofhollandcom .

Quality of Life:
 Transition to more clean and green food and body products. Eat fresh, organic, local, and in-season produce and eliminate products with ingredient names that you cannot read.
 If fitness is a resolution, consider a gym close to home so you can walk, run, or bike there and begin your workout before you step foot in the door.

Community knowledge:
 Regularly attend the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series to learn from local experts about sustainability topics. Check out
https://facebook.com/LivingSustainablyAlongtheLakeshore/

Community and Neighborhood:
 Volunteer for nonprofits, homeless shelters, food pantries, and beach/neighborhood clean ups.

Wishing you success in creating a green 2019!
 Karen Frink is an intern with the Holland Hope College Sustainability Institute.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.